There were over 150 entries from Massachusetts to this year's NPR Tiny Desk Contest. Five panelists — Dart Adams, Frances Forever, Peter Mulvey, Mano Sundaresan and Amelia Mason — were tasked with choosing a favorite. But it's hard to pick just one. So as we prepare to reveal the panel's top choice, we're highlighting a few entries that left an impact.
I’ll admit it — I’m a sucker for a drummer who sings. In the case of Kalliope Jones, that was just icing on the cake. The band’s Tiny Desk Contest submission, “Bubblegum Heart,” is, simply put, a great song. It starts with a chugging guitar lick and an instantly catchy melody. “I don’t wanna be busy every day,” sings drummer Alouette Batteau. “Workin’ 24/7 for the perfect grades.” The drums kick in, the band revs up, and together they slam into the chorus, swapping a propulsive groove for growly chords and cymbal smashes.
Kalliope Jones put a lot of care into the arrangement of “Bubblegum Heart.” Each time through the verse and chorus is slightly different, and at the end, the song transforms completely with a crescendoing outro. The three members of Kalliope Jones take an inventive approach to harmony, with cascading backing vocals that mimic and mirror Batteau’s lead. “Bubblegum heart blows up ‘til it pops,” she sings, to which her bandmates Amelia Chalfant and Isabella DeHerdt echo: “Pop! Pop!”
The members of Kalliope Jones, who hail from Western Mass., met in 2012 at a rock camp for girls. Technically, they are all adults now, but only just. “Bubblegum Heart” is a song about the anxieties of youth — the fear that, in an effort to set yourself up for a happy, productive adulthood, you could be missing out on the best parts of being young. “I don’t wanna be the good kid anymore/ I know you see me as a child listening through the door,” Batteau sings. “But maybe just this once, I’m gonna have some fun.”